Gambling debate polarises board

Should the Valley Project apply for funding that comes from pokie machines and other gambling?

It’s a debate that has polarized the Valley Project executive board with some members saying definitely not while others believe without this source of funding the future of the project could be in jeopardy.

Should the Valley Project apply for funding that comes from pokie machines and other gambling?
Should the Valley Project apply for funding that comes from pokie machines and other gambling?

Community input invited

With the project’s annual general meeting coming up later this month the board invites community input on the issue and will facilitate a discussion at the meeting on 19 June.

The Valley Project is a community-led development project which aims to improve life for people and whānau in the North East Valley area, including Opoho and Pine Hill. It’s activities are mainly funded via funding grants, with income also coming from Valley Voice advertising and community donations.

The biggest challenge is getting funding for core operational costs, such as staffing, building repairs and maintenance, and insurance, which account for about 80% of the project’s projected budget.

Valley Project manager Tess Trotter says the more funders they can potentially go to, the chance of covering those costs are a lot higher.

“This is really more about opening up our options, but also getting a feel for what our community thinks.”

Serious harm from pokies: board member

Board member Rob Thomson believes accepting funds from gambling goes against the values of the Valley Project.

There is no doubt pokie machines and other gambling cause serious harm to individuals, whanau and communities, he says. A recent report for the Ministry of Health estimated that gambling causes almost three times as much harm to New Zealanders as drug disorders.

"It goes against our values and goals"

About $150 million is taken from people using pokie machines and casinos every year and only a third is returned through grants, says Rob. “Yet, should we be grateful that they return a small amount of their profits back to the community they have taken from.

“By accepting funds from gambling I believe we are legitimising their activities, which go against our values and goals of the Valley Project.”

"It is survival versus extinction"

Board member Lois Scott sits on the opposite side of the debate and believes if there is a need for that money in the community they should apply.

Lois has been raising funds for numerous non-profit organisations during the past 40 years and says none of them would have survived without grants from gambling-based charity funders.

“It is survival versus extinction. What do we want?

"You can't afford to be all moral high ground about it."

“I believe where there is a need we should be applying. You can’t afford to be all moral high ground about it.”

While she didn’t want to minimise the issues of problem gambling – which she has personally experienced the effects of – there is also millions and millions of dollars needed by community and non-profit groups who do great good for the community.

Finding and applying for funds time-consuming

A substantial portion of the Valley Project’s funds currently come from the Lotteries Commission, a significant grant from the Dunedin City Council’s community fund (only available for three years) and up to 15 different smaller funders with contributions ranging from $500 to $5000.

Tess says time spent searching for and applying for funds takes away from the Valley Project’s core activities to support and connect their community.

Annual General Meeting

Share your views and join a community discussion at our annual general meeting. will be held on Wednesday 19 June from 5:30pm at the North East Valley Bowling Club.

WHEN: Wednesday 19 June, from 5.30pm

WHERE: North East Valley Bowling Club , 139 North Rd